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A Dutch Botanist, specialising on the flora of the Dutch East Indies.
Michie was a Probationer Gardener at RBGE starting in September 1948, eventually becaming a Botanical Foreman before leaving in July 1954 to work at the Institute of Parks, Lower Basildon, Reading.
Born Perthshire 1754, died London 1842
Archibald Menzies was initially employed as a gardener at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (then on Leith Walk) where the Regius Keeper, John Hope, stimulated his interest in botany. In 1778 he toured the Highlands and Hebrides collecting plants and Hope later encouraged him to study medicine. He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1781 and joined the Royal Navy where his career as a naval surgeon took him all over the world. He was chosen as naturalist and surgeon on the Discovery under Captain Vancouver on a long voyage exploring and charting the coasts of north-west America and the Pacific from 1790 to 1795. Menzies made the first recorded ascent by a European of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. He brought back a great variety of plants, cryptogams and natural history objects from his expeditions. He introduced to Britain the monkey puzzle araucaria araucana and wrote the first description of the Douglas fir, pseudotsuga menziesii. In 1790 he was elected fellow of the Linnaean Society in whose transactions he published accounts of his natural history findings during the 1790s as well as publishing an account of the Discovery voyage in the contemporary ‘Magazine of Natural History’. However he tended to rely on other botanists to publicise and interpret his findings and some of his journals were not published until the twentieth century. After retiring from the navy, Menzies practised as a doctor in London and on his death his herbarium of grasses, sedges and cryptogams was bequeathed to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; HR Fletcher and WH Brown ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’; (R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists)
Born Ayrshire 1780; died Edinburgh 1848
Starting work as an apprentice gardener on estates in Scotland, William McNab moved to Kew in 1801, being promoted 3 years later to foreman. In 1810, on the recommendation of Joseph Banks, he was offered the post of principal gardener at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh by the Keeper, Daniel Rutherford. Despite inadequate funding he set about developing the Garden, increasing the overall collection dramatically and introducing many new or rare plants, including mimosas, Australian banksias, and tropical water lilies. McNab was instrumental in the successful move of the Garden from Leith Walk to Inverleith under the Keeper, Robert Graham. He adapted a machine for transplanting well established trees, some over 40 feet high, details of which are included in his published paper on hardy evergreens (1830). His other main contribution to the literature was a treatise on cape heaths. McNab was a founder member of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh in 1836. Despite ongoing disputes over his salary, as a gardener and horticulturalist McNab was held in high esteem, as witnessed by the records of his testimonial dinner in 1844. He died in 1848 to be succeeded as curator of the Botanic Garden by his son, James.
Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists; HR Fletcher and WH Brown ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’; Gardeners Chronicle 1848, p 812
James McNab was Principal Gardener at RBGE between 1848 and 1878.